Vol. 12 No. 4 April 2010
From time to time there are criminal or civil cases brought before the courts, and because of connections to the defendant in order to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest, a judge will recuse himself. In an ideal world, the judicial system is to be fair, impartial, objective and in search of the truth to ascertain a party’s guilt, innocence, what rights have been violated, etc.
Our national, state and local laws are made to serve as a standard of rule for its citizens so we know what is right and wrong. Thus, we are able to conduct ourselves within the guidelines of the law, and therefore, be “law-abiding” citizens as Jesus teaches his followers to be (Romans 13:1-5; 1 Peter 4:15-16).
Unfortunately, sometimes there are cases brought before the church where judgments must be made, and actions must be undertaken because one or more parties have committed wrong and through a rebellious, defiant spirit are unwilling to repent and confess their fault(s). We are getting into an area, regrettably, where the church has suffered to an immeasurable extent because brethren often “take sides” and line up behind one personality or another, and the church becomes divided and loses its focus as well as its influence.
The brethren in the church in Corinth turned their heads while a brother in their midst was guilty of immorality. No one had the courage to raise his voice, even though the brother was severely in danger of losing his soul as well as all the others he would lead down the same slippery slope of fornication.
The church there was rebuked and rightly so. The apostle Paul wrote, “But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person (1 Corinthians 5:11-13). The Lord’s church in many places needs to restore the Bible teaching of exercising discipline of unruly members who are walking in unrighteousness. Writing a letter and withdrawal of fellowship are not steps one and two in the biblical pattern. Paul wept tears of sorrow in consideration of the sinner’s state. Where are our tears? Where are our prayers for the restoration of the erring brother or sister? Sometimes the erring child of God may be asking within himself, where are the voices of compassion and concern for my soul?
Why is it that Christians who have been such for 30 years or more yet cannot be fair and objective in the discerning between right and wrong? Brethren, we have got to grow, spiritually, to the extent we can see the difference without “respect of persons” and bias to cloud our judgment. It may not be “the expedient” thing to do, but if the greatest contributor on Sunday morning is guilty of practicing a lifestyle of sin, brethren must not cower for fear of losing his contributions.
If the preacher is caught up in the practice of sin and will not repent and change his behavior, action must be undertaken to remove him from the pulpit and the fellowship of the faithful saints.
If an elder in the Lord’s family practices sin and will not repent, he is to be rebuked before all. “Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses. Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear (1 Timothy 5:19-20).
May we never allow the good will of an influential, powerful member of the church to cloud and distort our vision and sense of right and wrong. Wrong is still wrong even if it’s my momma, even if it’s my daddy, even if it’s my wife, even if it’s my son or daughter, even if it’s my brother or my sister. Wrong is still wrong even if it’s me that’s guilty. “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26). We must love God more than even our family members.